Summary and book reviews of Give and Take by Adam Grant

Give and Take

A Revolutionary Approach to Success

By Adam M. Grant

Give and Take
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  • Hardcover: Apr 2013,
    320 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2014,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

Using his own pioneering research as Wharton's youngest tenured professor, Grant shows that these styles have a surprising impact on success. Although some givers get exploited and burn out, the rest achieve extraordinary results across a wide range of industries. Combining cutting-edge evidence with captivating stories, this landmark book shows how one of America's best networkers developed his connections, why the creative genius behind one of the most popular shows in television history toiled for years in anonymity, how a basketball executive responsible for multiple draft busts transformed his franchise into a winner, and how we could have anticipated Enron's demise four years before the company collapsed - without ever looking at a single number.

Praised by bestselling authors such as Dan Pink, Tony Hsieh, Dan Ariely, Susan Cain, Dan Gilbert, Gretchen Rubin, Bob Sutton, David Allen, Robert Cialdini, and Seth Godin-as well as senior leaders from Google, McKinsey, Merck, Estee Lauder, Nike, and NASA - Give and Take highlights what effective networking, collaboration, influence, negotiation, and leadership skills have in common. This landmark book opens up an approach to success that has the power to transform not just individuals and groups, but entire organizations and communities.

1
Good Returns

The Dangers and Rewards of Giving More Than You Get The principle of give and take; that is diplomacy—give one and take ten.
—Mark Twain, author and humorist

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in Silicon Valley, two proud fathers stood on the sidelines of a soccer field. They were watching their young daughters play together, and it was only a matter of time before they struck up a conversation about work. The taller of the two men was Danny Shader, a serial entrepreneur who had spent time at Netscape, Motorola, and Amazon. Intense, dark-haired, and capable of talking about business forever, Shader was in his late thirties by the time he launched his first company, and he liked to call himself the "old man of the Internet." He loved building companies, and he was just getting his fourth start-up off the ground.

Shader had instantly taken a liking to the other father, a man named David Hornik who invests in companies for a living. At 5'4", with dark hair, glasses, and a...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. In your life, who have you seen achieve the most success in the long run—the matchers, the takers, or the givers?
  2. What are the situations in which you operate more like a matcher, versus a taker or a giver? What triggers bring out each style for you?
  3. Who are the most successful givers that you know?
  4. How do you spot a taker? In your experience, what clues do they leak?
  5. In your world, whose giving goes the most unrecognized?
  6. How might you help recognize these givers in your life? How do you think they might respond?
  7. Once you have spotted a taker, how do you deal with them? What do you find are the best strategies for protecting yourself against them?
  8. What type of giving do you find most meaningful and enjoyable? Is it ...
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Give and Take has useful information for everyone, not just venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. I found myself hoping that corporations around the world are sitting down with Grant's book and engaging in his paradigm shift. His is a vision that deserves elaboration and an even broader impact.   (Reviewed by Jennifer G Wilder).

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Media Reviews
Author Blurb Susan Cain, author of Quiet
Give and Take is brimming with life-changing insights. As brilliant as it is wise, this is not just a book - it's a new and shining worldview. Adam Grant is one of the great social scientists of our time, and his extraordinary new book is sure to be a bestseller.

Author Blurb William P. Lauder, Executive Chairman, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc.
Give and Take provides a refreshing new perspective on the art and science of success. Adam Grant has crafted a unique, 'must have' toolkit for accomplishing goals through collaboration and reciprocity.

Author Blurb Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com and author of Delivering Happiness
Give and Take defines a road to success marked by new ways of relating to colleagues and customers as well as new ways of growing a business.

Author Blurb David Allen, author of Getting Things Done
Give and Take is a brilliant, well-documented, and motivating debunking of 'good guys finish last'! With fascinating research, an engaging style, and practical wisdom, this is a super manifesto for getting meaningful things done, sustainably.

Author Blurb Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Happier at Home
Packed with cutting-edge research, concrete examples, and deep insight, Give and Take offers extraordinarily thought-provoking - and often surprising - conclusions about how our interactions with others drive our success and happiness. This important and compulsively-readable book deserves to be a huge success.

Author Blurb Maria Eitel, founding CEO and President of the Nike Foundation
Adam Grant has written a landmark book that examines what makes some extraordinarily successful people so great. By introducing us to highly-impressive individuals, he proves that, contrary to popular belief, the best way to climb to the top of the ladder is to take others up there with you. Give and Take presents the road to success for the 21st century.

Publishers Weekly

Through Grant acknowledges that taking is sometimes necessary, for most people, giving is not only the best way to succeed professionally, but to be happy.

Kirkus Reviews

Slick strategies and a fresh approach for business professionals wishing to tip the scales of reciprocity.

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The Zero-Sum Game: A Mathematical Metaphor with Legs

In Give and Take, Adam Grant takes pains to demonstrate that many cold-hearted business transactions actually have a human side – that there is more at stake in contract negotiations, say, than the bottom line. He emphasizes the complexity of the give-and-take in business relationships by pointing out that such negotiations are "not a zero-sum game." Contract negotiations are not a zero-sum game; networking is not a zero-sum game. And so on.

What exactly is a zero-sum game?

Two men are facing each other across a table upon which are placed two goblets full of wine. One goblet contains a deadly poison. Both men must drink, and one will die. One of the men will live, and the price of his life is the death of the other man.

...

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